Evaluating healthy lifestyle programs at work



TYPE Publication Summaries

Why we studied this topic

The Commonwealth Government introduced the Healthy Worker Initiative (HWI), funding states and territories to implement healthy lifestyle programs in workplaces. Most hadn’t worked in workplaces before as a site for government health promotion so it was greenfields for them. When the funding was suddenly withdrawn, there was a feeling among the jurisdictions that they wanted to derive some lessons around their experience of trying to translate the HWI into programs.

What this paper adds

This paper offers insights into that process of program generation. Often the focus of an evaluation is impact, but this looks at evaluation at a much earlier stage – how a program is generated in the first place, and the factors a program manager looks at to construct something that meets the objectives of the initiative.

What was surprising?

The states thought the Commonwealth targets, such as achieving weight loss at an individual level, were fairly aspirational. States and territories saw as success as generating something sustainable and embedded into business processes and systems and policies so it could achieve meaningful change. They wanted something beyond fun runs and fruit bowls.

What it means for policy

This paper was written for an evaluation special issue, so it makes a comment about health program evaluation as a process. We take a ‘meso’ level view, at a state program level, and have found that in program development it is really worthwhile to document the wider contextual factors which help or hinder programs effect meaningful and sustainable change.